Robert H. Reny, a giant in the Maine business community who founded Renys 60 years ago in Damariscotta, died on Friday, July 24 after a long illness. My mother, Cynthia Lear, had known “R.H.” as a father figure since she began working in the Renys main office in 1983. Now the corporate manager of internal audit and collections for the company, she wrote the following for the man who was loved and respected by many. -Alex Lear
Today a truly great man has passed, and there are many grieving hearts of those who loved him. There will never be another man like Robert H. Reny. For those of us who worked for him and with him, he became a part of or lives and we would like to think that we became a part of his.
Mr. Reny not only created an ever-growing business, but he was also a great statesman, father, grandfather and husband. Mr. Reny would often say how he owed it to his wife, Carolyn, that he did not become discouraged during his company’s toughest times. He told about one night in the beginning when he had come home from work and had not had any sales that day. He was about ready to give up his dream, but she assured him that he could succeed. If it had not been for Mrs. Reny, who knows what would have happened?
Mr. Reny was so proud of his sons and would say that they were doing a good job, and that he didn’t need to worry.
He dearly loved his family and would often tell of the time – in the early days of his retail business, when he was traveling back and forth from Damariscotta to Bridgton, his second store – when he could see families sitting down to supper in the windows as he passed by, and how greatly he missed his own loved ones those evenings.
Mr. Reny was very active in state government. Often he would leave the office to have lunch with the sitting governor at the time. It didn’t matter whether they were Republican or Democrat; they wanted to hear from him, since he had become a successful businessman. As busy as he was, he always knew everything that was going on in the company. Mr. Reny made many friends with people at the New York companies with which he dealt, calling to wish them well on holidays and letting them know they were in his thoughts.
Mr. Reny was always kind and gracious. One minute he would be irritated with an order that had just arrived in the warehouse, but if a child walked into the office, he would lean over, smile, shake his hand and ask how he was doing. Once the child left he would get back to making sure things were being done correctly. He was always totally in charge; even when he broke his leg, he used a wheelchair so he could still get around and do what needed to be done.
Mr. Reny will be greatly missed. There are three of us who have been part of his life and worked for Renys alongside him and his sons for more than 25 years. We’re not sure how we will cope with his passing, since he has been such a huge part of our lives.
When my son was young and I would come home from work and talk about Mr. Reny, my son would say, “Mom, you talk about Mr. Reny like he’s a god,” and I’d reply, “Someday you’ll realize what a great man he is.” As Alex grew older, he did realize what a great man Mr. Reny was. He was able to tell Mr. Reny so a few months ago when he sang for him, and he thanked Mr. Reny for all he had done for him.
We can only say how much Mr. Reny will be missed by all of us, and there are many of us who have been impacted by him. Mr. Reny has been a great inspiration to countless people. He will be missed terribly, but he will always be loved. We will keep him in our hearts forever.
-Cynthia M. Lear